The warning was delivered by Douglas McKinnon who served in the White House under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He argued only luck has so far prevented a major catastrophe, and this could run out. In July asteroid 2019 OK, nicknamed ‘city killer’, shot within 40,000 miles of Earth.
This means a small change of course could have led to a direct impact with Earth, potentially destroying an area the size of the US state of Delaware.
Writing in The Hill Mr McKinnon said: “Thanks to the collective failure of our world leaders, our only defence today against such an event is dumb luck.
“On this issue, every leader around the world is in gross dereliction of duty to the people they purport to lead.
“For reasons of politics, ignorance, or indifference they are purposely turning a blind eye to a threat more critical, perhaps, than any other facing the planet.”
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Scientists failed to detect 2019 OK until it was close to Earth, perhaps because the sun obscured the view.
According to Mr McKinnon NASA has a record of missing asteroids less than 500 feet long.
He claims one of these could “wipe out a city, a region or a small country and kill millions in the process”.
The former Presidential advisor commented: “So far, only the fickle whims of the universe have prevented the unimaginable.
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“But soon our luck could run out and Earth will be shaken to its core.
“President Trump and all world leaders should immediately focus on solutions.
“First and foremost, they should arrive at a consensus on the best way to detect and deflect asteroids on a direct path to Earth.
“Anything less remains an abject failure and leaves all of humanity at risk.”
Mr McKinnon added that an expansion of the US space program could also help address the threat.